Tucked into the quaint neighborhood of South Minneapolis, Boludo is an Argentinian eatery serving up what might be the best empanadas in town. We got the chance to talk to chef/owner Facundo De Fraia about his Argentinian heritage, how he got his start in the industry and his hopes for the future of the restaurant.
Daniel del Prado persuaded you to move from California to work at his restaurant, Martina. Did you ever think you’d eventually open up your own eatery?
Daniel and I met in Buenos Aires when we were teenagers, and we’ve been best friends ever since. He mentioned he was working on his first restaurant in Minneapolis. While our relationship at that point was long distance, I felt it was a sign to reconvene. At the time, I had a restaurant in San Diego called Che Calavera. It was a slow season in San Diego, and I was having lunch in La Jolla when he called and asked if I would move to Minneapolis to open Martina.
I immediately called my mom, who told me, “This is destiny. Don’t think twice. Just do it.” For me, it was a dream come true. I was so excited to be doing this with my best friend. Though this was not the first restaurant I would help launch. In 2005, I opened my own bakery called Don Carbone Bakery in Seattle. After a year, I decided to flip it into a restaurant called Che Argento. My business partner and I made it about two weeks before he took control of ownership, resulting in me losing quite a bit of money. This only motivated me further, and look at me now: I am doing what I love in a new city.
What is your biggest aspiration as a chef?
My biggest aspiration is to make Boludo a global brand, accessible to anyone and everyone.
Do you have a favorite ingredient?
Any type of flour. Baking allows for so much creativity. It is truly a form of art.
Can you talk a bit about your history with cooking? Is there a person or place that significantly influenced your love for empanadas?
I started helping my grandma cook in Buenos Aires around age 8 or 9. She is an example of love and sacrifice, as well as my biggest influence. So much of my childhood was in the kitchen by her side. We would watch Argentinian, Italian and Spanish food shows together. She loved cooking so much that you could see it in her eyes. She often sang tango while cooking, making our time in the kitchen truly unique, special and unforgettable.
By 12, I was a huge fan of cooking shows; Gato Dumas and Francis Mallmann became my heroes. I remember devouring their shows (no pun intended). My mom was my biggest supporter and bought me all these kitchen supplies and equipment. From there, I began cooking for friends and family on a regular basis.
How do you incorporate your Argentinian heritage into the food you cook?
By simply doing what I’ve learned with consistency. My culture is everything to me. I’m not only showcasing Argentinian food, but the culture. The values, music and traditions have made me who I am today.
What does Boludo mean?
Boludo means so many things. Depending on the context, it can mean “friend” or the opposite, “jerk.” With delicious Argentinian comfort food and crazy loud music, Boludo is more than our name. It’s our vibe. I hope all the work I’ve put toward Boludo’s food, music and overall ambiance gives my guests a one-of-a-kind experience.